Tucumcari volleyball season over


November 14, 2018

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari's Aaliyah Brown attempts a spike against the defense of Dexter's Alondra Alvarez, left, and Monique Fuentez during a district tournament volleyball match Thursday at the Snake Pit in Tucumcari.

Tucumcari's volleyball season came to an end Saturday in the championship match of the District 4-3A tournament with a 17-25, 18-25, 25-21, 14-25 loss at state-ranked Tularosa.

Tucumcari coach Dena Benavidez said the Wildcats, which improved to 19-4 overall and ranked seventh in Class 3A, simply played better.

"We had a lot of hustle plays, great blocking and good hitting," she said. "But they just got us. Their passing was really accurate, and they were able to get good hits. But I'm proud of my girls and how they played. They showed a lot of heart."

The Lady Rattlers ended the season with a 7-16 record but came on strong near the end of the season, winning three of four matches at one point, including a three-set upset of Tularosa on Nov. 3.

Tucumcari loses five seniors for this year's squad - Kalani French, Lenora Trujillo, Alyssa Martinez, Julianna Salas and Bryanna Arias.

"I really enjoyed coaching them, and they'll be missed," Benavidez said. "They were true assets to our team."

It wasn't pretty at times Thursday, but Tucumcari knocked off Dexter 25-21, 25-22, 25-23 in the semifinals of the district tournament at the Snake Pit.

The Lady Demons, who struggled all season with youth and inexperience, finished their season 2-19 overall.

The Lady Rattlers never trailed the first two games, taking an 18-9 advantage in the first set and 18-8 in the second despite committing six service errors and numerous hitting miscues.

In the third set, the Lady Rattlers fell behind 23-14, and it appeared Dexter would force a fourth set.

However, Tucumcari's best server, Lorin Chavez, fueled a 9-0 scoring run with three aces. Jasmine Jones tied the set at 23 with a block, Chavez gave Tucumcari the lead with an ace, and Trujillo ended the match with a tip kill to end Dexter's season.

"It was much closer than I would've liked," Benavidez said of the match. "But we went on that 9-0 run to end the third game, and that shows our heart and tenacity. A win's a win. I'll take it."

On Nov. 6, Tucumcari lost a tiebreaker match to Tularosa at a neutral site, Dexter, to determine the regular-season district championship. The Lady Rattlers lost 21-25, 17-25, 25-21, 19-25.

"We played decently," Benavidez said of the match. "We had some passing and setting errors, and they were the determining factor in us losing."


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